MILLBURN, NJ - At Monday Night's Millburn Board of Education (BOE) meeting, three separate groups of presenters stood in front of the board and talked about their projects, goals and experiences.
Millburn High School student Purnima Palawat filled people in about her new magazine, Empowher. Middle Schooler Annabelle Wu read her award-winning letter to the author of "Boy in the Striped Pajamas" and Deerfield Physical Education teacher Eric Cantagallo talked about his other athletic passion; the unified sports program.
Purnima Palawat: Empowher
"I am a part of the word literary magazine, so I got very into that very into that process because I was one of the people working on that," Palawat said. "I feel like there isn't a lot of spaces for women of color to express their voices in Millburn."
This thinking led her to create empowher magazine, with issue one on the way. When asked why she went the magazine route, Palawat said it offered a variety of avenues for women of color to express themselves.
"I liked the idea of a magazine because it's something I was interested in, and I was thinking that's a good way to incorporate photography, drawings, writing even editing if people want to work on editing," she said. "It was a good way to incorporate everything."
Annabelle Wu: Award-Winning Letter
Wu, a Millburn Middle School student was honored in front of the board for her open letter to John Boyne, author of "Boy in the Striped Pajamas."
When asked about why she wrote the letter, Wu said that it was a chance for her to use her voice.
"I thought it was a wonderful opportunity and it was part of a competition," she said. "It was a great way to e able to share my feelings and to show how I felt through writing. I feel like it's great to be able to put into words on a piece of paper what I feel inside."
Wu also said that even though the subject matter was difficult to read, it was important for her to do so in order to better understand history.
Eric Cantagallo: Unified Sports
Cantagallo, who works in the district as a Physical Education teacher in Deerfield Park Elementary School
"As I said in the presentation, it's absolutely priceless. Some of the greatest moments I've ever had coaching is with these kids," he said.
Cantagallo noted that he and Coach Shirley have seen kindness blossom on and off the field and that this program has served as the conduit to life-long friendships.
"People know that kids have this [kindness] in them," he added. "It's just that now there's an avenue to allow it to happen. And because we've allowed it to happen...it is something that was imagined a long time ago ut has now come to fruition."